The Wildlife Trusts' Shoresearch - North West

The Wildlife Trusts' Shoresearch is a volunteer-based coastal recording project, identifying and recording animals, plants, and habitats across rocky shores of the UK. In the North West, we undertake surveys across the shores of Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire. The aim of the project is to increase our knowledge and data on intertidal wildlife around our coast, to help promote its conservation.

The North West Team

In the North West, The Wildlife Trusts' Shoresearch project is led by Emily Baxter, Marine Conservation Officer at the North West Wildlife Trusts. The project is supported by a Volunteer Shoresearch Co-ordinator and trainees from Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s and the Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside’s Marine and Coastal Heritage Programme. A group of vital volunteers also help lead surveys (Volunteer Shoresearch Leaders) and input the survey data.

Shoresearch Surveys

The North West team organises training and survey events throughout the year. Selected sites are visited around the coast and a full record of the species and habitats we find are collected. These events are a good opportunity for those new to marine life identification to learn in the field from the experienced Shoresearchers. We are on the shore for approximately 3 hours, with tea and coffee afterwards, giving us time to complete the recording form for that day.

Anyone over 16 can join Shoresearch (those 16 and under can attend with a parent or guardian) – you don’t need to be a member of The Wildlife Trusts. Everyone is welcome - you do not need to have any previous knowledge of marine life or surveying! All new volunteers are invited to attend a beginners' training session where we introduce the survey methods and go over basic coastal ID. These sessions are fun, free and informal; check the events page for upcoming workshops. We do ask that you book each event in advance to allow us to confirm numbers and ensure we have the appropriate equipment. Booking information for training and survey events can be found on our upcoming events pages.

For surveys, please bring along:

  • Appropriate clothing for weather conditions on the day – warm clothing and waterproofs or sun hat (and sun cream).
  • Sturdy footwear - wellies or other waterproof footwear
  • Any food required and a good supply of drinking water
  • Washing-up gloves are useful for poking about in rock-pools in cold weather!
  • Optional: A hand lens is useful if you have one and you are welcome to bring your own ID guide although the Volunteer Shoresearch Leader will have some.

The Volunteer Shoresearch Leader will bring all necessary survey equipment, data forms and ID sheets. 

Personal benefits

Shoresearch is a great way to enjoy spending time outside and meeting like-minded people. You will learn about the amazing marine life of the Irish Sea and be part of the movement to protect these species and habitats. Volunteering can also add a lot to your CV!

Conservation benefits

All the records gathered by  The Wildlife Trusts' Shoresearch are sent to Local Record Centres and/or sent directly to government agencies who use the data to inform conservation decisions. Mersey Biobank help us to collate all the marine records for the North West and the data is then also passed on to Tullie House (Cumbria Local Records Centre). Shoresearch records are used to help build our knowledge of the marine environment; to identify the region’s most important sites, habitats and species; and to highlight changes. In April 2012, data collected by The Wildlife Trusts' Shoresearch project was submitted to ABPMer, an ecological consultant seeking additional data to feed into the review of the ecological evidence for recommended Marine Conservation Zones.

For further information about The Wildlife Trusts' Shoresearch and marine conservation in the North West, please contact:

North West Wildlife Trusts
Tel: 01539 816300